The hospital system is preparing to handle more Covid-19 cases, the Health Minister announced today, as the number of new cases reached 71.
Details of how the health system can handle the surge in cases after the current vaccine campaign came when Public Health Director Caroline McElnay said she expected the number of cases to continue to grow.
McElnay said the 71 new community cases today were “sobering, but not unexpected.”
Of the new community cases today, 28 have yet to be linked. Of the 55 cases yesterday, 21 cases remain unrelated.
While there were no cases in Waikato or Northland today, the two community cases reported yesterday in Waikato remain unrelated.
There are 33 people in the hospital, including five in intensive care.
During a briefing today, Health Minister Andrew Little, Medical Director Dr. Andrew Connolly and GP Dr. Jeff Lowe unveiled the plan for how the health system could handle cases in the future.
The capacity of ICU and HDU beds across the country could increase to 550 beds, he said.
“If we were to provide additional augmentation capacity to convert beds for ICU-level care, then as a result of work that began late last year, DHBs tell us that they can increase up to 550 beds, that would be in the cost of other treatments and other patient care. “
The nurses have received preventive training that enables them to work competently in an ICU setting under the supervision of fully trained ICU nurses, Little said.
This sudden-style ICU preparation followed a similar pattern used by the UK’s National Health Service and British ICU counterparts had provided advice to ICU leaders in New Zealand, he said.
One issue of concern was the logistical challenge of an outbreak that occurred in an area served by a smaller hospital.
In this situation, it may be necessary to relocate some staff and patients, and planning for that scenario was underway, Little said.
The Health Ministry expects the worst case of up to 5,300 Covid 19 cases per week in the Auckland and North region, assuming a 90 percent vaccination rate can be achieved.
Modeling is part of planning how the ICU and hospital systems would cope.
New cases from household meetings
At today’s 1pm briefing, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said “very few” of the cases stemmed from workplace transmission.
“Where they come from is still within homes, some in our healthcare settings, and a large number of gatherings within people’s homes. We also saw this happen at Alert Level 4, and sadly it has continued at Alert Level 4. alert 3.
“These gatherings inside people’s homes are not allowed at alert level 3 as much as they were not allowed at alert level 4.
“My message today is clear: we need people in Auckland to stick to the Alert Level 3 rules.”
He said the outbreak did not occur in a small geographic area, but was affecting people in all parts of the city.
“Which makes it everyone’s job in Auckland to help prevent its spread.”
Robertson said New Zealand’s Alert Level 3 was among the toughest measures in the world and had worked to contain outbreaks before, but Delta was a tough and challenging opponent.
“It has never been more important to follow the ground rules that we have applied since early last year when Covid first arrived in New Zealand.
“Treat those around you as if they have Covid. Limit contact with others and maintain physical distance. Wear a mask every time you leave the house. Use the contact tracker app wherever you go. Wash your hands with regularly and get vaccinated. It is the best tool we have to protect ourselves from the virus and eventually lower our alert levels. “
Move towards home isolation
People with Covid-19 will soon be asked to self-quarantine at home, rather than being taken to a managed isolation facility.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said home quarantine would be introduced sooner rather than later.
“We’ve done that before in our first lockdown last year, we isolate positive cases within their own homes overall,” Hipkins said.
“So we’ve done this before and we’ll see it again and I think we’ll see it again pretty soon.”
The home quarantine system requires a lot of work, mainly in regards to food delivery for people, home medical checks and daily medical checks via video of a phone call.
Hipkins said it was a necessary step to prevent MIQ spaces from being further limited for people coming to New Zealand from abroad.
“I think, like I said, soon [you will] They see us having to move to a more home isolation model for those positive cases, rather than increasingly converting our MIQ facilities to deal with domestic cases.
“The last peak we saw a couple of weeks ago, I think we reached the peak of what we could do in terms of MIQ, and I don’t think we will go beyond that.”
The Great Immunization Efforts of Northland Communities
Two Northland communities that were at the bottom of the Covid-19 vaccination statistics have seen a massive spike in just one week.
This time around last week, only 45 percent of people in Otangarei and Waima Forest had received a dose of the vaccine, putting them in the bottom five areas nationally.
But now Otangarei has soared to 70 percent and Waima Forest is at 66 percent.
Epidemiologist Rod Jackson said it was clear from overseas evidence that bringing the virus closer was a real motivator for people.
“There is nothing like people being really scared for their own health and the health of parents and their children to go out and do the only sensible thing, which is vaccination,” he said.
You can look up vaccination rates by suburb here.
Women arrested in Blenheim after leaving Auckland
Two women who traveled from Auckland to the South Island were arrested in Blenheim and charged with failing to comply with a health order.
The 48 and 49-year-old couple were due to appear in Blenheim District Court today.
Both have been tested for Covid-19 and results are awaited.
Police and the Health Ministry are investigating how they were able to get out of Auckland.
Police personnel who interacted with the women wore full personal protective equipment.
Initially, six officers were removed as a precautionary measure, but public health officials have since warned them that they are not required to isolate themselves.
The key to fighting vaccine doubts
Science teaching expert Michelle Dickinson says that many people who doubt the vaccines she has spoken to decide to get a Covid-19 injection once their questions have been answered.
Dickinson, also known as Nanogirl, has been conducting virtual question-and-answer sessions about the vaccine for teachers and school personnel.
She told Morning Report that those reluctant to get vaccinated needed to be presented with information about how vaccines were made in a way that related to them.
People often had particular concerns about the safety measures that had been taken during the development of the vaccine and wanted to better understand the process.
More than 600 educators attended Dickinson’s first session yesterday and many of the questions submitted were from people who doubted vaccines and who, according to her, “just wanted someone to sit down and talk to them about what [the vaccine] that is, so they could make their own decisions. “
Find out more here.
More people who work from home when they are sick
More people are working from home when they are sick, rather than taking sick leave.
Southern Cross and Business New Zealand’s fifth Workplace Wellness Report shows that last year the average amount of vacation employees took was approximately 4.2 days.
Southern Cross Health Insurance CEO Nick Astwick told Nine to Noon it was the lowest average in the last 10 years.
About 90 percent of companies had made it clear that staff should stay home when sick, but 62 percent reported that sick staff worked from home, Astwick said.
Work and family life have never been so intertwined, which carries risks, he said.
“We see that many companies report much more stress on their employees due to a combination of home isolation, but also some increased risk levels (related to Covid, related to the level of work), so this culminates in a small challenge to the health and well-being of the workforce. “